Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate


Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


File-sharing is worse than murder and child abduction

Jammie Thomas downloaded 24 songs from Kazaa and was sentenced to a fine of US$2,000,000. Joel Tenenbaum downloaded 30 songs and was fined $675,000. These amounts sound improbable, but could have a justification à la Becker: If the fine is high enough, then it should deter everyone from this activity. In fact, if the fine is infinity, then their would be no crime at all. That only works if there is no risk of error in the determination of guilt, in which case, the fine need to be reduced to account for type I errors. The level of a fine then reflects the gravity of an action and the likelihood of errors.

How do the above fines compare to other crimes? Gapers Block uses the Illinois Criminal code to find that file-sharing is worse than arson, child abduction and second-degree murder, among others. This just shows how ill-conceived laws are sometimes, and copyright and patent law unfortunately provides too many examples.


You had a great post, nicely supported by fact and logic, until you threw patent in out of nowhere. Why not just say "...and copyright laws and libertarian logic unfortunately provide too many examples."
Lonnie, Lonnie, Lonnie ... it's a well established fact that copyright and patent law are ill-conceived, from all the studies that have shown that they act contrary to their stated purpose, which is to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts".
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The music filesharing punishments have indeed gotten out of hand - the punishments are illogical and unstreamlined, & those who perpetuate the crimes are often kids who 'should have known better.' Who gets away and who gets caught is merely luck! People need to realize that if they want to 'send a message' they should get serious about cracking down and come up with a way to organize those violating the filesharing/downloading laws. Until then - they're a joke, and people will hedge their bets!
No, the solution is to abolish copyright law.
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